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Cody Battershill

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The Truth About the Canadian Oil Sands

Truth about Oil SandsThe Truth About Canada’s Oil Sands

The Canadian oil sands are attacked on a constant basis for a myriad of fabricated reasons. One of the biggest complaints is that the oil sands greenhouse gas emissions per barrel are higher than conventional crude.

The truth is that the oil sands are not the most ghg intensive oil produced on the planet. Why the other producers are given no scrutiny is anyone’s guess. Probably has a lot to do with a lack of freedom of speech and personal safety in certain countries where no Engo or protestor would dare to step foot. Seems pretty hypocritical to claim to care about the environment yet let the real culprits off the hook.

It is also important to remember the factual context and not get carried away with hyped up sound bytes. For one oil sands ghg emissions per barrel are down 29% in the last 20 years and industry is spending hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars with thousands of researchers and scientists working on improving even further. Show me another major oil reserve country doing the same? If that is not evidence of environmental stewardship and responsibility i don’t know what is.

To put things into perspective, Canada produces about 2% of the worlds GHG and the Canadian oil sands is approximately 6.5% of Canada’s total GHG contribution. The oil sands itself is responsible for 0.1% of world ghg and even in the NEB high production forcast for 2035 still makes up less than 1%. So what about the other 99%? Ask the Engos I guess, maybe its not as lucrative or trendy to attack other sources of greenhouse gas…

The truth is that certain other major oil reserve nations aren’t regulated like Canada is. Their true GHG emissions cannot be measured because their standards of regulation and monitoring systems are either non-existent or not nearly as advanced in comparison to Canada’s. I theorize if every major oil reserve and producing country was measured on a level playing field in line with Canada’s standard you would find the oil sands compares better than it already does.

The truth is that although the oil sands does have a slightly higher ghg emission per barrel than “Conventional”crude oil there are still several other countries and oil produced that has higher ghg emissions than the oil sands.

The Facts

  • Of the top five sources of oil to the United States, Canada is the ONLY country that currently has GHG regulation in place. – Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)
  • Oil sands total GHG emissions in 2009 were 45 mega tonnes, equivalent to just 3.5% of 2009 emissions from the United States coal fired power generation sector. – Environment Canada 2011
  • One coal power plant in Illinois produces about 25% of the GHG that the Canadian oil sands do
  • Two coal power plants being constructed in South Africa upon completion will produce approximately 60% of the total GHG from the Canadian oil sands
  • Canada has the 3rd largest oil reserves in the world, 97% of which are in the oil sands

Get in the discussion

Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the oil sands. You can also get in the conversation on twitter @CodyinCalgary

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